Sunday, August 14, 2005

The end is in sight

Well, after playing practically nonstop from around 6 p.m. to around 2 a.m., I got really far in Tales of Symphonia last night. I am already near the end, especially after playing for another several hours today. I must confess that game is really addicting. There are so many side quests to do at the end for one thing. Some of them are hard to do too. I couldn't find the maids to talk to in Meltokio in order to get Colette's maid costume.


Earlier I knew the doctor event in Flanoir was coming up, when you must choose whether to keep Zelos in your party or have Kratos join instead. After having him in my party at the Iselia Human Ranch, I realized I should have Kratos instead of Zelos in the end, because Kratos is almost obscenely more powerful, since stupid Zelos didn't learn his Techs like I told him to. So when the time came, I rejected the first three people who came knocking (but it was Genis, Colette, and Presea, so I didn't even have a chance to worry about Zelos) and sure enough, Kratos appeared and a nice scene unfolded.

The thing that stinks about choosing Kratos over Zelos is that then when you enter the Tower of Salvation in Tethe'alla later on, instead of facing the Gatekeeper, who is of a more manageable HP level, Zelos betrays you, hands off Colette to Pronyma, and after a lengthy scene that mimics the one where Kratos betrays you in Sylvarant's Tower of Salvation (which, coinicidentially, when abbreviated, spells "T.O.S.", which is also the initials of the name of the game -- "Tales of Symphonia." I just thought of that), he challenges you to a fight, and he has a lot of HP and some pretty scary Techs. But they're not too scary because they are almost the same as Kratos's Techs, so you know what to expect.

The rest is pretty aggravating, even though a dying Zelos gives you some direction as to where to find Colette. Having to go through the anti-gravity rooms in the Tower of Salvation the first time around was bad enough. This time you have to go through the ruins of the tower, and along the way you lose every single person in your party, so that by the time you reach Yggdrasill, it's just Lloyd. Fortunately, Namco is nice enough to bring everyone (including Raine, who I was almost certain was going to die) back to help you. A long scene follows, with Martel's consciousness speaking through Colette's body and pleading with Mithos/Yggdrasill (oh yeah...they're the same person, and the same seemingly harmless half-elf boy that was Genis's friend...jerk!) to stop what he is doing. Yggdrasill makes you fight Pronyma again. She's not alone as she was way back on the Fooji Mountains (she's got two sidekicks, "Iduns,") and she has wayyyy more powerful Techs, like Prism Sword. The trick is to treat her like the seal guardians and other bosses with sidekicks. Take out the sidekicks first, using Lloyd and another melee fighter (I used Sheena, so I could summon Luna if needed to prey on light-weak Pronyma, but the chance didn't come up), then target Pronyma, who should be fairly weak if Genis has been doing his job right (even though Pronyma is strong versus dark, Genis's spells still work all right).

If you beat Pronyma, the game continues, and after Martel (through Colette) tries to get through to Yggdrasill, who switches from Yggdrasill to Mithos, he refuses to listen to her. Colette regains control of herself and warns the party to be cautious. Mithos transforms back into Yggdrasill and challenges the party. This time he has to be defeated for the game to continue, and with 40,000 HP and very powerful Techs, it's no easy task. I'm surprised I did it in one try.

After this, you have to leave the Tower (I got a bit lost trying to warp to the exit, which turned out to be right near the door I exited Yggdrasill's area from...heh heh oops). Travel to Heimdall (quick jump from Ymir Forest) because guess what, you have to fight Kratos to unseal Origin and get the Eternal Sword so you have a chance at saving the world. And Kratos and Origin are in Torent Forest, which can be accessed only from Heimdall. But there's one slight snag in making the decision to do this...well, two actually. One, the seal of Origin is more or less mana linked to Kratos, meaning he could die if you unseal it. Second, and this was the big surprise of the game....KRATOS IS LLOYD'S FATHER!!!!! Unbelievable, but true. So that makes it hard to risk his death, doesn't it?

The good news is that the Elder allows you to bring Genis and Raine along (you couldn't in previous visits to Heimdall because they're half-elves, and half-elves can't come into the hidden elven village) on the condition that they don't use any of Heimdall's facilities. Which means what, I don't know. Talk to the characters around the village (I think I got everyone except Sheena...I couldn't find her) and then finally talk to Colette in front of the inn to rest for the night. Then talk to the Elder in the morning and enter the forest. After wandering around like mad and chasing a cat-like creature out of stumps with the Sorcerer's Ring, I found the deepest part of the forest, and thus, Kratos. Lloyd must fight him alone, but hey at least you can use items (thank goodness!!). There is a letterboxed short cutscene right as the fight starts, which is kind of cool. Kratos is hard at this point but not unbeatable. He only has 12,000 HP for this duel, which makes him like a early-game boss compared to previous fights with him. Lloyd should have pretty good Techs by now anyway, and when I did it today, Lloyd was in his late 60's in level.

If you beat Kratos (well, okay, you have to beat him), a cutscene follows where he releases the seal of Origin, only to collapse. Fortunately, the ever-useful Yuan comes to the rescue and revives Kratos by transferring some of his own mana into Kratos's body. Kratos, in a weak voice, says that now he's been cheated out of dying again. Lloyd embarks on a long speech about how everyone has a right to live. Oh yeah, Origin has showed up by now. He's a big buff guy with four arms. He talks about how he's lost faith in things and refuses to make a pact with Sheena (huh...sounds like an earlier pact scene...oh yeah, the one with Volt) but Sheena and Lloyd persuade him to make a pact. Defeat him to gain the Diamond and the Tech "Summon: Origin" for Sheena.

After this, there's a cutscene of Mithos trying to posess Lloyd from the Cruxis Crystal Genis picked up in the Tower of Salvation. Uh, big mistake, Genis. Lloyd resists. Then one of your best friends will block Mithos's attack, your top one. For me, it was Colette. Mithos possessed her body and took her away. A even nicer (art wise...but sadly not anime) cutscene follows, where Heimdall gets smashed to bits by the Tower of Salvation collapsing. Oy, stupid Mithos!! Anyway, after rescuing everybody, I flew back to Dirk's House to forge the Ring of the Pact in lieu of Altessa doing it, since he's injured thanks to stupid Mithos. Dirk does it, using the materials Kratos collected (NOW we know what he was looking for while wandering around Tethe'alla). I got the Material Blade and the Eternal Ring. The Eternal Ring will help me wield the Eternal Sword, I think...

Now I have to find the Tower of Salvation in order to continue. But you can't see it on the horizon near Ozette anymore, so it's hard to find. I guess I'll have to land near its former location and hope I see it from the ground.

This game gets more and more complex all the time.


On other notes, school starts next week, and I go back to part-time work, which I think I will prefer. This Tuesday I'm going to hang out with Amy, conditions permitting. Which reminds me, today's her birthday...should I call her? Yeah, probably. I wonder if her birthday card got there in time. I mailed b-day cards to her and Kevin at the latest possible moment (Friday afternoon) to make sure they'd be on time. I didn't get gifts cause I didn't know what to get as gifts, especially for Kevin, and it wouldn't be fair for him to just get a card and Amy get a present and a card, although Kevin's so young that he probably wouldn't care. I almost bought Amy a book on Salvador Dalí at the Crown Books Liquidation Center, but I wasn't sure if she was still into him.

That's all.

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